Caption: Climate scientist says Biden’s election means world has ’avoided disaster’
Joe Biden’s win in the United States Presidential election has pulled the world back from the brink of disaster, according to a top climate scientist.
Professor Saleemul Huq, who has worked on climate change policy at the highest level, hailed the Democrat’s commitment to re-establishing the US at the forefront of tackling environmental problems after four years of inaction under Donald Trump.
Speaking in the week the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP 26) was due to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow, Professor Huq said the change of leadership in the White House will make an ‘enormous difference’ to the preparations for the now delayed summit.
But, he admitted, the US has ‘a lot of catching up to do’ as it’s already seeing the impact of climate change on its own shores in the shape of catastrophic hurricanes and wild fires.
The scientist, who leads the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, said: ‘We’ve all been waiting with baited breath, watching the election results trickle in over the last few days and indeed it has been a great relief, I would say, that Mr Trump did not get re-elected because that would have been an absolute disaster.
‘Four more years of Trump denying climate change would have set back the world enormously so we’ve avoided disaster.
‘Now Mr Biden has actually said that climate change is going to be a priority, he’s promised to re-enter the Paris agreement on the first day after he takes the oath of office. It’s a very good sign but they have a lot of catching up to do.’
The US officially left the Paris Agreement on climate change while the election results were still being counted last week.
Protesters hold up signs during a demonstration objecting to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate accord (Picture: Getty Images)
Donald Trump has since removed Michael Kuperberg, the influential head of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and is reportedly set to appoint a climate change denier in his place.
Before the election, climate scientists warned that the earth ‘was in the hands of the US electorate’ as a second term for Trump would have meant ‘game over’ for the planet.
Professor Huq said the US had committed to distributing billions of dollars in funding when Barak Obama originally signed up to the Paris Accord in 2016. None of this money has materialised and it will now be on the President-elect to honour these commitments.
He said he hoped world leaders will learn from the Covid-19 pandemic about the importance of working together to find common solutions as ‘every country in the world’ is going to have to live with the impact of global warming.
Trapped residents are rescued after a Typhoon caused major flooding in the Philippines this week (Picture: AP)
Asked by Metro.co.uk how he thought the election of Mr Biden will change the dynamic in the run-up to COP 26, Professor Huq said: ‘It will make an enormous difference – having the United States back in.
‘When Mr Trump made the US federal government leave the Paris agreement, interestingly, no one else in the rest of the world went with them – they all decided to fulfil the agreement.
‘Even within the US, there were states like California and cities like New York that said “we are still in the Paris agreement” so Trump withdrew the federal government but he wasn’t able to withdraw the entire US.
‘Now with Mr Biden in the White House, hopefully the entire US will be able to come back on board and we can join this collective effort globally.
‘COP 26 in Glasgow will be the next point in time when we can come together and we have to accelerate action. What we are doing is good but it needs to be a lot faster and with Mr Biden in the White House we hope that will happen.’
A bushfire in Australia where officials have warned climate-worsened disasters will become more frequent, more costly and more severe (Picture: Getty Images)
Professor Huq was speaking at the launch of a new report carried out by the Overseas Development Institute and commissioned by the charity WaterAid.
It found just 1% of the billions pledged globally to fight climate change goes to protecting and providing water for vulnerable communities.
The detailed analysis of where the money is going was commissioned to help establish where donors and national governments need to prioritise future funds.
It was released ahead of the first global meeting of all public development banks to discuss climate change, the Finance in Common Summit, which takes place virtually today.
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